Have you already read the first chapter of THE VEIL, the first book my new Devil’s Isle series, which releases August 4?
Then you’re in luck. Because now you get the second chapter!
Blacks, grays, taupes. There weren’t many civilians left in New Orleans these days, especially in the Quarter, and we tended to wear neutral colors. Military colors. Our clothes blended with theirs, and that was fine by me.
Stay quiet; work hard. That was my motto.
But this was War Night. War Night deserved more than camouflage, so I’d donned a pale violet dress sprigged with white flowers. While Gunnar waited downstairs, I changed from black and gray into NOLA-appropriate purple that worked pretty well against my green eyes and long red hair. Fortunately, I was happy with it straight, because it wouldn’t hold a curl if you begged it.
When Gunnar finished off the tea and the store was locked up tight, we followed Royal Street past brick buildings still half-destroyed, then turned onto Canal. As Gunnar had reported, the crowd was already huge.
The few remaining palm trees swayed, the air cooling as the sun dropped toward the horizon. The sounds and smells of War Night were carried on the breeze—the rhythms of brass-heavy jazz, the fruity scent of tonight’s Drink, lingering smoke from the fireworks.
The Vanguard stood at the head of Bourbon Street, scepters waving beneath a homemade arch of metal scraps, paper flowers, beads from prewar Mardi Gras parades. This year’s War Night theme was “paradise,” so they’d also stuck in palm fronds, Spanish moss, and flowers made of cut soda cans.
The parade would zigzag through the Quarter, down Bourbon to St. Anne, and then over to Jackson Square, a gorgeous park even war hadn’t managed to destroy. At the Square, the parade would turn into a block party that would last until the band got tired, the booze ran out, or Containment shut us down.
We looked over, found Tadji waving from a spot in the middle of the street. She was tall and slender, with velvet-dark skin and curly hair that framed a face dominated by enviable cheekbones and a wide mouth. Tonight she wore a gauzy purple tunic over a saffron bodysuit, and a dozen thin golden rings on her fingers that sparked in the light. The ensemble—fluid fabric over her long, strong form—made her look like a pagan goddess.
She was absolutely gorgeous, crazy focused on her work, and usually unflappable.
Except when it came to magic.
Click here to continue reading, and check back on June 15, when you’ll get the third chapter. (And that’s it until release day!)